I know what you’re thinking, No Country for Old Men is a such popular and good movie that everybody heard all about it. So, there’s really no need to clutter the pages of this beautiful movie recommendation site of ours with its neo-noir glory. I would beg to differ and I have my reasons. First of all, while this movie is really big now, it will surely go under the radar in the coming years. Secondly, we have both the people who missed its initial run for whatever reasons and younger generations who are still to discover it.
Finally, No Country for Old Men holds a special place in my heart. It’s, in my opinion, the best Coen Brothers movie and I do love almost all of their movies. Based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, it’s dark, immersive, and just so damn juicy. I find it hard to compare it to any other movie as it’s so beautifully simple and yet brimming with content. But do check out the last paragraph for a list of relatively similar movies. The cinematography is simply stunning and the production values are phenomenal.
Every new scene could be your new desktop background. And it doesn’t matter if we’re in the mystical Texas plains or busy city streets, the visual quality simply does not change. Although I must admit I’m still lost in those long shots of Texas wilderness. You feel like you’re right there, in that place, smelling the morning coming or the night slowly enveloping the hilly landscapes. It would appear that this place exists in some other, parallel universe.
After witnessing the dawning of another glorious day in the glorious state of Texas, we focus our attention on a cop and a killer. The cop just arrested the killer and brought him to the police station. However, this is where things start to get complicated. A briefcase full of money, a truck full of drugs, a hitman, and a man on the run kind of complicated.
The opening five minutes of No Country for Old Men are truly fascinating. And I’m not just talking about the introduction of Anton Chigurh, I’m talking about the visual style. All of these murders are happening in broad daylight for the whole world to see.
It ties in nicely with the themes we’ll be exploring, one of which is fate. You just happen to be driving on that road that day. Or you just happen to be working when a man with a strange haircut enters the gas station. A flip of a coin you might say and Anton Chirurh would agree. This is also one of those movies you’re going to remember and keep coming back to. It has so many iconic scenes that I could go on and spend the next ten paragraphs just writing about them.
There’s no melodrama, emotional milking, or cheap thrills here. Everything feels very deliberate, important, and, most of all, fascinating. And I haven’t even mentioned the cast of No Country for Old Men led by dependable Josh Brolin. We also have Tommy Lee Jones giving another grizzled veteran Tommy Lee Jones performance.
However, we all know who stole the show here. Yes, Javier Bardem was frighteningly creepy as the hitman Anton Chigurh, a man who you do not want to meet. His performance here was downright unsettling. And that fucking captive bolt pistol he carries around complete with that huge air tank is the stuff nightmares are made out of. And while those are nightmares, perhaps you would agree that finding a shitload of money is a dream come true. What would you do in a situation like that?
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like No Country for Old Men, you can start with Hell or High Water and Wind River. Then you can transition to devious and subversive westerns like Bone Tomahawk and The Proposition. And you can finish things off by going back to the nineties with One False Move. Or better yet, another Coen brothers classic, Fargo.
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Cormac McCarthy
Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald
Fun Stuff: Ethan and Joel Coen were looking at a photo of a man visiting a brothel from 1879 when they noticed he has a rather strange haircut. And this is the haircut Anton Chigurh has in the movie. Javier Bardem hated it and this was clear sign that the haircut is a hit.